Although the construction and HVAC industry has typically lagged in adopting new technology to complete projects, a new wave of technological advancements is creating some disruption in the industry. Robotics, or the use of humanless machines, are more and more widespread in construction and HVAC companies, thanks in part to innovations driven by leading technology firms from around the world.
One notable tech company behind this disruption is Built Robotics — a San Francisco-based startup established in 2016. Lead by its CEO, a former Google and eBay employee, Built Robotics’ mission is to bring autonomous machinery to the construction industry on a grand scale. Since its inception, the company has developed self-operating bulldozers and backhoes equipped with sensors that help them function properly and safely throughout a project. Similarly, robotics are being utilized in HVAC for inspections of ducts, cleaning, and aerial views via drones. While these innovations bring some excitement, many are concerned about the shift humanless operations may create in the service industry as a whole. Here’s what you should know:
Integrating robotics into your job site
Incorporating robotics into everyday construction and HVAC tasks has several perceived benefits, including job completion that is efficient in cost, time and labor. Many technology advocates also tout the increased job site safety robots may bring — above and beyond what licensed and bonded contractors can and have delivered for years.
A lower cost burden relating to insurance coverage is also an advantage, along with less waste in terms of materials and effort on each job. Although there are widespread concerns about replacing the crucial human element of service in markets like HVAC and construction, many tech-savvy business owners can see the positive light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to robotics on the job.
Practical use of robotics
So where, exactly, does the inclusion of robotics fit in? The short answer is just about every aspect of jobs that are labor intensive.
Technology companies are currently working on developing large machines that are self-operating, like Built Robotics’ bulldozers and backhoes. These machines can do the work of several construction workers in a short period of time, with both accuracy and safety at the helm. Above and beyond autonomous machinery, some technology firms are focused on other robotics uses in HVAC, including autonomous drones, inspection cameras, and air duct cleaning applications that take away the need for much human involvement. Each of these technology-infused solutions may become commonplace on work sites in the near future.
The future of autonomous machinery
The service industry has been facing a chronic labor shortage for the past decade, which has prompted the development of technology to combat the growing issue. However, for contractors currently running small businesses or large operations, there is a significant concern about replacing humans with machines completely. In reality, this is not likely to be the case just yet. Government regulators have yet to fully come to the table regarding updating laws and guidance over autonomous machinery, and technology remains limited in its ability without human interaction.
What may be more likely is an environment where contractors and self-operating machines are working in tandem. The benefits of this approach include a steady job market for contractors who have the skills and experience to keep up with today’s job site demand as well as lower expenses for contractors bonds and insurance across the board.
Technology in construction and the HVAC industry is not necessarily a negative, but it will continue to be a disruption in the market for those who resist change.